Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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LCWR Outstanding Leadership Award Recipient -- Mary Luke Tobin, SL

LCWR National Assembly  
August 20-25, 2003, Detroit, MI 

Remarks by Mary Luke Tobin, SL



The following are the remarks Mary Luke Tobin, SL, made when she received the LCWR Outstanding Leadership Award at the 2003 LCWR National Assembly.  Mary Luke is the first recipient of this annual award.

 Thank you! When I received the phone calls last spring from your executive director, Carole Shinnick, your president, Mary Ann Zollmann, and my own president, Mary Catherine Rabbitt, all telling me about this award, I felt a surge of great gratitude.  Of course, I am very grateful for this honor you have given me, and very humbled by it.

 More than that, however, my heart is full of gratitude for how the LCWR continues to serve the women religious of this country as well as other groups in the church and in the wider world.  The Conference has faithfully assumed its leadership role of inspiring and energizing, of taking an outward-reaching and forward-looking stance, of endorsing and implementing strong positions on issues of justice, peace, and compassion.  I appreciate the courage and the creativity which the LCWR has demonstrated through the years.

 Often in these times when the world situation, the church situation, and the climate in our country seem more bleak than brilliant and more somber than shining, we search for hope.  Because we are persons of faith, we count on the Spirit to comfort us with hope. For many years, I have loved Gregory of Nyssa's description of God's gift of grace which "gives us ever new eyes to look on ever new suns."  That is hope and in the shining of those ever new suns, we can stand together, work together, pray together, not only with one another as women religious, but with all those, especially the poor, who need our solidarity.

 I am reminded of a response made once by Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, who represented my home city of Denver in the House of Representatives for 22 years.  At one point, when the prospects for change to improve the lives of those on the edges seemed quite dismal, and when some of her progressive colleagues slumped near despair, Pat said, "Well, each of us has a pair of hands.  And with them we can do one of two things: "We can put our hands together and wring them, or we can use them to roll up our sleeves and get to work."  That, I think, is a stance of hope, the kind of earnest, working hope that must be ours.

 I will close my remarks with part of a poem, "Beginners," by Denise Levertov, in which she uses the image, "So much is in bud," to describe hope.

 ...But we have only begun to love the earth.
We have only begun to imagine the fullness of life.
How could we tire of Hope? --so much is in bud.
How can desire fail?  -- we have only begun  

to imagine justice and mercy, only begun to envision 

how it might be
to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors. 

We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitude in the communion of struggle. 

So much is unfolding that must
complete its gesture.
So much is in bud.

 So, again, I thank you for this award which means so much to me.  I am so proud to have been a part of the Conference and so proud of all of you.